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Richard Gere compares homelessness to solitary confinement

Published 02/03/2016

Richard Gere attending a screening of his new film Time Out Of Mind at the Curzon Cinema in London
Richard Gere attending a screening of his new film Time Out Of Mind at the Curzon Cinema in London

Richard Gere has said making his film about homelessness brought home how similar it is to "solitary confinement".

Time Out Of Mind follows the story of Gere's character George, as he survives on the streets of New York - and finds refuge and company in a homeless centre.

Speaking at a VIP screening at the Curzon Mayfair, Gere said: "I n the process of making the film, I might have learned more how quickly one can mentally deteriorate, and the isolation that one can feel in the streets.

"Even in a city like New York - 12 million people passing by - without the social interaction, it's like solitary confinement.

"How quickly those issues come up, and how difficult it becomes to be retrieved once that process of falling off the cliff of mental stability starts to happen."

But he continued: "I didn't want to play him as an eccentric, mentally ill guy acting out. It seemed a movie cliche, and we want to break those kind of cliches. It's you or me, it's any of us."

Time Out Of Mind has been a passion project for Gere, who has spent over 12 years working on the movie.

The Pretty Woman star put himself in the position of a homeless man on the streets of New York, with much of the movie shot by long-range lens. No one recognised him.

The film sees George struggle with feelings of worthlessness as he struggles to get hold of his birth certificate, find places to stay, and mend his relationship with his daughter.

At one point, George says in despair: "I'm nobody, I don't exist."

Gere, 66, said: " All of us are human beings, and none of us are beyond redemption.

"None of us are beyond concern, care, that feeling of being precious to someone - our community, our tribe, our village, our social group. We all need that desperately."

On responses to the film, which was first premiered at Toronto Film Festival in 2014, he said: "T he two reactions that I really love are homeless people themselves - they see the movie and say, that's it. That's exactly the way it is. And not just the facts, the way it feels.

"The other group is people who have seen the film and said, you know, for the first time in my life I'm actually stopping and talking to that guy, or woman, on the street. That homeless person that I just have walked by for years.

"And it's been kind of an amazing experience to realise their humanity, and in the process find more of my own."

:: Time Out Of Mind will be in cinemas from March 4.

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